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Son's presentations are better than timeshare pitches

Columnist Dan Conradt says bedroom presentations were made for a puppy, video games, moped and more.

Dan Conradt column sig

“First, I’d like to welcome you and thank you for coming,” he said, “and remind you that there will be refreshments following this morning’s presentation.”

I’d been through timeshare sales pitches that started the same way. This time the presenter wasn’t wearing a leisure suit and a cloying aftershave.

And he was 15 years old.

Steven tapped the space bar on his laptop to start PowerPoint. The title, in 2-inch letters, scrolled across the screen:

WHY I NEED A CELLPHONE

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“Need,” not “want."

We’d been invited to Steven’s bedroom for his “presentations” before as he made his case for an allowance, a puppy, video games and a moped. He earned high marks for creativity, even if his success rate wasn’t great.

The title page faded and was replaced by a screen that simply read “Safety.”

“Let me ask you this,” Steven said. “As a parent, how important is my safety to you?”

Man, this kid is good!

Carla and I exchanged looks like we were giving his question some serious thought. It was hard not to smile. “Pretty important,” we agreed.

“Great!” Steven said, and PowerPoint began flashing bullet points, outlining the safety reasons for getting him a cellphone — to let us know when he needed a ride following an after-school activity, to remain in contact whenever he was out with friends, to reach him if there was an emergency.

“And a year from now I’ll be getting a driver’s license. I’m sure it will give you peace of mind, knowing I’ll always be a phone call away.”

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Yup, we were being set up by a pro.

A notation in the corner of the screen said we were looking at page 7 of 43. I stuffed a pillow between my back and the bedroom wall; we were going to be here for a while.

On page 35 Steven pointed out that most kids get their first cellphone long before they turn 15. He misspelled “embarrassing.”

“That’s the end of my formal presentation,” he said after half an hour. “Are there any questions?”

I raised my hand.

“Dad?”

“What would a cell phone cost?”

He knows me pretty well and was ready for the question.

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“I’m glad you asked that,” he said. Another tap on the space bar brought up a spreadsheet laying out the financial implications of cellphone ownership.

My first car didn’t cost that much.

We exhausted our questions and answers and Carla looked at me.

“Do you want to … “

“No,” I said. “You go ahead.”

“Well,” she said, “dad and I have been talking, and we’ve decided that you’re old enough to get a cellphone.”

I’ve never been hugged by a timeshare guy, but then again I’d never agreed to buy anything from one.

“Did you make up your minds even before my presentation?” Steven asked over the refreshments.

“Yes, we did,” I said around a mouthful of Fig Newton.

“Why didn’t you just tell me that?”

“Because the presentations are so entertaining!” I said. And I could hardly wait for the next one:

WHY I NEED A CAR

Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.

Related Topics: PEOPLEDAN CONRADT
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